Walk or Run with the Olympic Torch

by | Jun 3, 2003 | Archives

Here is an incredible human rights opportunity offered by reader and Olympic athlete Dave Wharton that allows you to walk or run with the Olympic torch in the middle of the world!

This message comes friend and reader David Wharton. Dave represented Australia in the Olympic's Pentathalon, one of the most staggering endurance events in existence.

After joining Merri and me in Ecuador a few winters back, Dave wanted to do something to highlight the lives of the Andes and has created one of the most interesting human rights and health events I have ever seem. See what he has written about this below.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to walk or run with the Olympic Torch from Colonial Quito to the top of Panecillo Hill on a Sunday morning with large crowds and the support of the mayor of Quito. This will be an amazing experience! You can see Dave and the torch and learn about this event from Dave's message below.


"While in Ecuador with Gary and Merri Scott last year I decided to re-trace 

the 500 year-old footsteps of the ancient Chasqui Messengers along the Inca

Trail from the Equator to the Valley of Longevity - Vilcabamba.

"This combined my passion for running with my interests in longevity and

preventative health, while still exploring the wonders of Ecuador.

"Ecuador is the most biological diverse place on the planet. One can stay

in 400 year old haciendas, spot the world's largest flying bird; the

Andean Condor, visit the Equator and Otovalo; home to the largest

indigenous markets in the world, experience healings by shamans, see 300

year old turtles in the Galapagos, experience the Amazon, Andes, Inca Ruins

and the amazing birdlife and visit the Valleys of Longevity.

"Hiring an SUV and guide I decided to run parts of the Inca Trail. My

guide, Eduardo Quito, drove ahead to pick me up and continue to the next

destination along the Inca Trail. This allowed me to sightsee as well as

enjoy my runs.

"Since the Incans used the tradition of learning and communicating orally,

their main form of communication to their kingdoms was through the Chasqui

Warriors. The Chasqui delivered messages along the Capac Nan (Inca Trail)

by running 2 mile relays through the rugged Andes Mountains. Their feats

are legendary, respected and honored by runners worldwide.

"Setting off from the Rumicucho Ruins (a solar observatory and Inca

Fortress) north of the Equator Monument, I ran along the Equator line with

one foot in each hemisphere till I reached the Middle of the Earth

Monument. To my surprise I found out that due to centrifugal force one

weighs less on the Equator. Knowing how important weight is for a marathon

runner I had to weigh myself, and yes it's true, I was lighter here than

back home in Australia.

"Later that day I ran in the magnificent Parque Carolina with local

joggers. Situated in the center of Quito; Ecuador's capital city, this is

where the locals go to work out. The dirt track in the park had eroded but

it still enabled me to test my lungs running at 10,000 ft in the middle of

the world. Running on the flat was okay but the slightest incline slowed my

pace dramatically.

"Next day I found myself at the base of the world's highest active volcano,

Mt. Cotapaxi. Lake Limpiopungo at 14,000 ft has a llama track around it. I

wondered how high I could go. So I took off around the lake at a tempo

which quickly slowed as I climbed the banks while the effect of lack of

oxygen and cold took its toll. The pace made the last 5km of a marathon

feel like a sprint.

"The Ingapirca ruins are an Inca Fortress, the most famous and best

preserved Inca Ruins in Ecuador. The temptation was too great so I went for

another run. Eduardo who was a soccer player and thought he was fit decided

to join me and we set off on the trails around the ruins. I imagined

myself as a Chasqui messenger 500 years ago.

"To my surprise Eduardo dropped off early in the hills. As I was running

toward the main ruins and my meeting place with Eduardo, I noticed tourists

taking photos of me. Eduardo had been proudly telling people that I carried

the Olympic Torch in Sydney.

"An idea was born as I stood above the arches of these Incan Ruins. What if

I brought a group of runners from around the world to Ingapirca with the

Olympic Torch? This would link the athletes of the past with those of the

present. What would the Incan Kings say? What would the Chasqui say? I

closed my eyes to meditate on these thoughts running through my head. Then

I heard 500-year-old voices saying 'do it'. I came out of my meditative

state to be greeted by a smiling Eduardo suggesting it would be great for

Ecuador if I brought runners to this beautiful country.

"With a head full of ideas we continued into the Valley of Longevity -

Vilcabamba. Vilcabamba along with the Hunza in Pakistan and Georgia in

Russia are known around the world for the longevity of their citizens.

However Vilcabamba is the only one with church documents to support the

claims, studied and recorded by National Geographic.

"Vilcabamba became known to the wider world audience in 1977 when Dr.

Alexander Leaf wrote for National Geographic. He stated that in Vilcabamba

1080 people per 100,000 lived to 100 years, while in the United States only

3 per 100,000 lived to the age of 100. More importantly the people of

Vilcabamba were still highly active, both physically and sexually while

continuing to work in their old ages.

"Since then scientists from around the world have studied the people of

Vilcabamba. They've found that the chemical analysis of hair follicles and

bones of centarians did not differ from that of people in their

20's. Unlike in the western world, men outlived women. When I visited 110

year old Artimidora Gaona, he was chopping wood. Then I met Ramon Armijos

who used to be the village undertaker and made his last coffin when he

retired at 100 years. If I told you his age, you would say I made it up.

"Vilcabamba, where years are added to your life and life to your years was

like Mecca to me. Due to my interests in 'extending athletic life' and

longevity, stimulated by Dr. John Douillard of Colorado, I immersed myself

in the mists of Vilcabamba by running the streets and valleys, drinking and

swimming in the sacred waters.

"What if I brought the runners from Ingapirca with the Olympic Torch to the

Valley of Longevity? Once again I closed my eyes only to hear wise men all

the way back from the Incan warriors say 'do it'.

"At that moment the concept of the "Chasqui Longevity Tour" was created. On

August 30 the Chasqui Tour starts with runners of any and all abilities

from around the world are invited to join me on a running holiday of a

lifetime. We will run at interesting locations along the Incan Trail,

going as far as we like or staying on the bus till the next location. Along

the Capac Nan there will be time for exploring the wonders of Ecuador and

time for sharing running stories over a bottle of wine. There will be

surprises along the way and certificates will be presented at different

locations to record various achievements.

"The Olympic Torch has generated a lot of media interest in Ecuador. Along

the way locals can join us for a small fee with the proceeds going to help

indigenous runners in Ecuador and a charity associated with the Amazon.

"Join me after the tour as I explore the Amazon and spend 2 days with a

shaman who specializes in health and energy. You never know it may even

improve your running and health! Of course, we will run in the Amazon

because that is what we enjoy."

David Wharton is a friend of Merri's and mine and 51-year-old Australian who loves running. His speciality was the Modern Pentathlon and in 2000 he was chosen to run a leg of the Olympic Torch Relay.

David is pursuing his passion for running, health and longevity and wishes to share his knowledge and passion with fellow runners who hold this sport so close to their heart.

I strongly urge those of you who love to run or have a sense of adventure to join David on this historic run. He is making it possible for people to enjoy short or long runs…. I can't urge you enough to enjoy this historic event. For more info on the Chasqui Longevity Tour have a look at http://www.runnershi.com

Keep in mind for all of you who suffer in the heat in August, the Ecuadorian Andes are cool and blissful.

May everything run into happiness and health for you,